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There are certainly some differences between the trials in UK and Canada, but we might still learn something from their educational tools. Take what you will and use it.

Things to remember when attending a field trial

  • Manage your expectations. The extra pressure and nerves of working under a judge can affect your decision-making and handling

  • Mistakes often occur through ‘pilot error’ so be ready for disappointments

  • Field trial etiquette. As a competitor you should never publicly impugn decisions of the judge or judges

  • Neither should you criticise the host, ground or guns who give of their land and time freely.  If you are not sure why you have been eliminated speak to the judges at the end of the trial when they have completed their official duties

  • Questions should be restricted to the performance of dog and not the dogs of other competitors. Judges are not required to give a critique of each dog’s performance but should be prepared to discuss their decisions in confidence with competitors, if requested.

  • Social media should not be used to discuss grievances

  • If you are spectating or are eliminated from the trial you must not leave the trial ground without the permission of a judge or Chief Steward. This is imperative for safety where the direction of the line can change and to ensure ground is not disturbed

  • Dress appropriately - wear conventional and acceptable clothes, i.e. No denim jeans. Good footwear for all terrains is advisable, as is good water/bramble-proof proof clothing. Looking tidy and presentable in muted or neutral country attire shows respect for the event and the landowners. This is a country sport.

  • The welfare of your dog is your responsibility.  You should always carry drinking water, especially in hot weather

  • Likewise, you may have to consider taking an appropriate dog coat for protection from wet and cold as well as from the sun

  • Have a drying towel in your vehicle should your dog need to be dried off before you drive home

  • Dogs should never be left unattended in unventilated vehicles/trailers in hot weather

  • Harsh handling of dogs will not be tolerated

  • Any concerning issues you may see at a trial should be reported to the Chief Steward on the day, if possible

  • If for any reason you need to withdraw from a trial it is courtesy to inform the secretary in good time to give others the chance of taking that run

  • Withdrawing within seven days of the trial may incur losing your entry fee

  • Any competitor not present when the chief steward announces the commencement of the trial, risks forfeiting their run

  • It is essential for the smooth running of the trial that all competitors arrive at the trial's ground before the stated time for the commencement of the day’s proceedings 

  • Be respectful at the end of a trial. A lot of people will have given their time to make your day take place

  • Regardless of what has happened to you, it is good manners to thank the host/landowner, club officials, judges and estate staff at the conclusion of the trial  

  • It is important not to forget the guns

  • To say ‘thank you’ costs nothing, but goes a long way. It shows good sportsmanship by congratulating the winner and those in the awards

  • Respect your environment. It is your responsibility to make sure you pick up after your dog, especially in public places, hotels, car parks etc and if requested at the meet area

  • Be aware many field trial venues meet out in the field and do not have toilet facilities

  • Take your rubbish home

Things to remember when attending a field trial

CREDIT: The Kennel Club UK.

Field Trial Safety, Handlers



17.5.5  Gun Safety

(b) ….. the gun team should work in a quiet and efficient manner, helping each other, noting unsafe conditions and passing this information to other gunners, such as bird planters location, off-line handlers and dogs.


We thought it might be helpful to note some unsafe conditions and pass them on. Planters are rarely a problem. They know they are out front and the guns know it as well. A far more intransigent problem is the largest group at any field trial, handlers. These people get tired and cut across the course, hide in bushes and depressions along the course, duck down when a bird flushes, string out along the center line, have involved conversations and don’t pay attention to the progress of the trial, run multiple dogs without help/runners, etc., etc. This group can help improve field trial safety for the better immediately and easily by changing a few things they do.


It is a responsibility of all participants to work together to create and maintain a safe environment to compete in. Toward this end there are several recommendations that should assist in creating a safer environment.

“For safety sake” handlers please become more aware of safety


What is good for the planter is good for the handler:

  1. Do not to spread/string out in front of the guns on the center line, group up.

  2. Planters stay on the center line moving to the plant and then back as soon as practicable.

  3. Planters either, remove themselves completely from the course at change over or to stay in a blatantly visible position in full view at all times.

  4. Planters also were trained to be vigilant and watch the progress of the trial and remain standing and turn their backs when a bird gets up in your direction.

  5. Do not cut across the course.

  6. Do not hide in bushes, trees, grass, swales, depressions on or around the course.

  7. Wear eye protection at all times. Polycarbonate lenses or glass are best. Cheap sun glasses will not deflect shot.

  8. Preferably wear a Blaze Orange head dress of some kind.

  9. Do not wear your faded old blaze orange, or camouflage.

  10. In undulating terrain try to stay on the height of land.

We are looking forward to the development of more educational materials to help dog owners to be their best at Handling their dogs in formal and informal events.

English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
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